London’s happiest place to live: Richmond upon Thames takes the top spot in the capital for the fifth year running
For the fifth year in a row, Richmond upon Thames has been voted the happiest place to live in London. However, this year some surprising boroughs are not far behind.
The riverside town is the capital’s home of rugby and topped the UK-wide Rightmove Happy at Home Index for its sports facilities.
Among London’s top scorers, Richmond was, perhaps predictably, followed by leafy Kingston upon Thames and mega-expensive Kensington & Chelsea.
But Camden and Wandsworth came in fourth and fifth in the ranking published today, with the south London borough of Bromley at their heels.
Once a no-go area for aspirational Londoners, Hackney is now firmly in the top 10 ahead of Merton, Westminster and Waltham Forest.
The annual Rightmove study polls 22,000 homeowners across the UK in 194 locations, with a London index and a national list.
Hexham in Northumberland topped the national index and Richmond came third. This is the first time a London contender has broken into the top 10 happiest places in Britain.
The survey measures how people feel about 12 factors, including a sense of belonging, cultural scene and green space.
View from Richmond Hill
Most evenings at sundown, regardless of the season, people buy a pint at the Roebuck pub at the top of Richmond Hill and perch on one of the benches overlooking the vale of the Thames.
The river meanders through meadows, past Marble Hill Park and out to Surrey. Locals simply call it “the view”.
The town itself has a mix of boutiques, independents and high street brands with bars and pubs on the riverbank.
This all comes at a cost: the average asking price of a home in Richmond is £802,240 — down 6.1 per cent on this time last year but much higher than the London average asking price of £609,506.
Savills’ Daniel Hutchins says most people who move to Richmond have a link to the area or grew up there. “This has created a real sense of community,” he says.
The property market has picked up this month, according to Rose Holden of Marsh & Parsons. Christmas is always a natural deadline that motivates people to make an offer but there’s more to it this year, she says.
“No one knows which way the election is going to go but people have more confidence now as we head into it.”
K&C for big spenders
Third on the London list, Kensington & Chelsea, where the average asking price is £1,570,219, scored well on restaurants and shops.
There are new-homes schemes nearing completion in the heart of Kensington but these are not for the average first-time buyer.
Kensington Row by St Edward is an upmarket retirement complex with two- to four-bedroom flats from £2,295,000.
A redevelopment of the Curzon cinema and Habitat block in King’s Road is under way, with shops, a pub, an independent cinema, a rooftop bar and 47 flats for rent.
Camden moves up
Camden has moved up the Rightmove rankings from sixth last year to fourth this year.
Property is expensive given its proximity to central London, with the average price of £961,367 pulled up by areas such as Primrose Hill and Hampstead.
At the top end of the Camden property market, records are being broken. Simon Deen of Ashton Chase has sold an apartment in the red-brick industrial conversion Chapel Lofts for close to £4 million.
However, Camden is becoming “more mainstream” he says. “At its centre Camden Market is less edgy and more accessible than it used to be. Businessman Teddy Sagi has invested heavily in the area and created a foodie culture with lots of restaurants and bars.”
Cheerful but cheaper
The other two boroughs in the top five, Kingston and Wandsworth, have a much lower average price point, with stock designed for first-time buyers.
The average asking price in Kingston is £579,250 — 5.9 per cent lower than this time last year as the outer London market continues to cool. It scored well on culture and people feel they can “be themselves”.
The average asking price in Wandsworth is £757,895 but flats in The Ram Quarter, a new scheme in the centre of town, start from £580,000 with Help to Buy available. Call 020 3751 3190.
Hackney: Pub on the Park overlooking London Fields. The borough beat Merton and Westminster for happiness (Daniel Lynch)
Hackney & Bromley
Hackney has secured a £2 million grant from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund, matched by the council, to turn it into a fashion and shopping hub.
One of the largest new schemes, Fish Island Village in Hackney Wick, has 580 new homes and studios to replace rotting canalside warehouses. From £477,500 (020 3906 1950).
Bromley came sixth. Two thirds of the borough is green space and there are 954 sports facilities.
The average asking price is £534,535, which has edged down this year by 0.2 per cent.
Room to breathe: Bromley, sixth in the happiness ratings, is two thirds green space and average asking price is £534,535 (Daniel Lynch)